NFL Fantasy Football: Why Taking Wide Receivers Early in Drafts Makes Sense (PPR)


Update: Be sure to join us on Turf Show Radio today at 7pm EST. Lots of FF guests to help you dial in before your LIVE drafts. Be sure to check out "Fake Teams" , the SBNation fantasy football site.

(Disclaimer: The most important aspect of any fantasy football draft is the rules you are using. Take the time to read the fine print of your league's system.)

In this article, I am going to present a handful of reasons as to why wide receivers could be your best choice early in the draft.

1) Historical Trends

Most fantasy football owners adamantly believe in the Running Back Theory: Take them early, take them often. It is not surpising to see RBs taken as the first 6-10 picks without a break. If you are lucky enough to grab a top three back, grab him. If you are looking at drafting later in the round, you are faced with a question. Should I grab the 11th best RB or go against the grain and pick the top player at a different position? There is no advantage in taking a RB that will not compete with those that have already been chosen. Rather, seek to take advantage of selecting the best WR or QB on the board.

2) Starting Roster Requirements

Even with today's flex roster possibilities, most leagues require you to start at least two WRs. That means EVERYONE will have to start two WRs. If you are able to select two powerhouses, you will have a tremendous advantage over owners that are mixing and matching wideouts to meet the roster requirements. No position is more inconsistent as a whole than the wide receiver position. As such, you want the most consistent players you can get to give you an advantage over other owners.

3) Production

Many advocates for the Running Back Theory suggest that the production of a running back is vastly superior to that of a wideout. I disagree. Take, for example, the top WR of last season, Calvin Johnson. He finished with a stat line of 96/1681/16. Players like Wes Welker 122/1569/9, Larry Fitzgerald 80/1411/8, and Roddy White 100/1296/8 compare very well with the top RBs in the league.

4) Health / Injury

As a general rule, running backs tend to get injured more often and more severely than other offensive positions. It comes with the territory of being hit more often and by generally larger players (linemen, lbs). While injuries certainly do occur with wideouts, they are less frequent in comparison and usually are less likely to result in a serious loss of playing time.

5) Scarcity

There are many RBs that will touch the ball a large number of times during the course of a game. As a result, there is a larger pool of players to choose from. There are only a select few wide receivers that are targeted over and over again every game. With fewer of the more "can't miss" prospects at the position, if you don't take them early, you won't have an opportunity to take them at all.

6) Free Agent Surprises

Every year players emerge at every position to have a blow up year. However, this argument comes down to a question of availability. As an attachment to #4 above (Health), no position provides more opportunities to grab a productive free agent than the RB position. As a starter gets knocked out, his replacement is immediately in line for a plethora of carries. Regardless of his talent level, he will have some degree of productivity.

In conclusion, I try to take two WRs in the top three rounds of the draft. I can be guaranteed two great WRs with one solid RB. If you are drafting at the turn of your draft, 12/13 for example, why not grab someone like Fitz and Welker? You will have the opportunity to take RBs later in the draft. And, if you strike out with a true number one, don't fret...RBs will become available as the season progresses.

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